President Obama signed an extension of the Patriot Act in Washington, DC on May 27, 2011 even though he was in France. He accomplished this feat using a device called an autopen.
According to The Daily Caller, the president authorized the use of the autopen to sign an extension of three key provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act. The device can be used only with the President's permission. This machine saved the day since the Act would have expired at midnight without Obama's signature
The autopen isn't new technology. In fact, the device was first developed in 1804. President Obama isn't the first President to use the autopen; Thomas Jefferson used it as early as 1804.
President Obama's use of the autopen in this case may have been convenient, and even necessary. However, one could almost raise the objection that it wasn't constitutional. The Founding Fathers could not have foreseen the use of this device when they drafted the U.S. Constitution.
Fortunately, the use of the autopen by the President of the United States was already declared constitutional back in 1995. So, critics of the procedure will have to hold their tongues.
Of course, the design of the machine has changed since it was first patented in the early 1800s, but it is amazing that a modern version of this nineteenth century invention is still being used today.
John Isaac Hawkins, the inventor of the autopen, never could have imagined that President Obama would be using his invention more than two centuries later to sign a four-year extension of the Patriot Act.
Even though the device has been in use for more than two hundred years, many Americans are learning about it for the first time thanks to President Obama's recent use of the autopen.